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ghost2most
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2012
2209 posts

Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
We keep talking about acquisitions, etc. but Zion simply becoming an above average defender is just as impactful as most signings we could make.

When we drafted him, I thought he would be a stud based on his Duke clips, defending guards, blocks, etc.

Then he got fat and looked completely clueless.

He still looks too big but at least to the eye, he was much improved on d the second half of the year.

Do the statistics corroborate that?

Why has he struggled so bad in the NBA? Learning curve, weight, lack of lateral agility?

And where can he get to? What's the key to his improvement?

I still think he needs to slim down but that may be a pipe dream. Let's say this is his size. Will his awareness improving allow him to become a decent to above average defender or will his size always hold him back?


Fun Bunch
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
New Orleans
Member since May 2008
81548 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
quote:

lack of lateral agility


I think this is the biggest one, coupled with poor conditioning, and being a bit clueless on that end.

I think he can end up being "not a negative", which would be fine.


TigerinATL
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Member since Feb 2005
54848 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
He started to look a lot better towards the end of the season. He regularly started making more blocks and one of the last games he played he helped close out the game with hustle defense.

Zion will be fine. Ingram is who we need to worry about and possibly move at some point if he doesn’t improve.
This post was edited on 6/7 at 1:55 pm


shel311
Nicholls St. Fan
McKinney, Texas
Member since Aug 2004
85021 posts
 Online 

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
quote:

I think this is the biggest one, coupled with poor conditioning, and being a bit clueless on that end.

Sounds so simple, but also just being in a defensive stance.


Outside of being in iso with a guy, when he's in rotation or help just any other time, it feels like he's always flat footed, standing straight up, and never in a ready defensive position.

His closeouts need serious work too. Feels like gives a lazy closeout, which I can live with if you're ready to D up if the guy decides to fake and drive, but he gives the lazy closeout AND still lets the guy blow right by him. That was really frustrating all season.


J_Hingle
LA
Member since Jun 2013
3578 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
quote:

Sounds so simple, but also just being in a defensive stance.


Outside of being in iso with a guy, when he's in rotation or help just any other time, it feels like he's always flat footed, standing straight up, and never in a ready defensive position.

His closeouts need serious work too. Feels like gives a lazy closeout, which I can live with if you're ready to D up if the guy decides to fake and drive, but he gives the lazy closeout AND still lets the guy blow right by him. That was really frustrating all season.


100% spot on. There were times he would literally just stand straight up and get blown by. Later in the season you could clearly see someone got in his ear about it. He actually started getting into a stance and seemed to give a shite lol


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Bronc
Member since Sep 2018
5101 posts
 Online 

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
On the one hand I somewhat get it with Ingram, but on the other hand Ingram’s frustrating.

I get that due to the lack of a third playmaker and spacing his life was hell offensively, and despite that managed the same efficiency as last season when his spacing was better and we had Jrue. But that said, he was a solid and improving defender in LA. And we’ve seen parts of games where he turns into a pest. So it’s clear he CAN be a good defender….He just hasn’t done it consistently.


GOP_Tiger
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Jan 2005
8272 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
One of the biggest problems with missing the playoffs is that guys often try harder in the playoffs, and that usually has the biggest impact on defense.

If we'd had a playoff series, we could've learned a lot about our defense, especially about Zion and BI, and we'd be in a better position to understand how much of our poor defense is related to effort, as compared to understanding and technique.

One of the things that a lot of us noticed was that, this past season, we generally played better in nationally televised games against quality opponents. That's definitely an indicator that effort is playing a role.

quote:

We keep talking about acquisitions, etc. but Zion simply becoming an above average defender is just as impactful as most signings we could make.



That's why a roster acquisition (Rondo is an obvious example) who gets in players' faces and holds them accountable could be such a valuable acquisition, because SVG tried to do this but only had limited success -- SVG can't implement a culture of accountability by himself.


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TeddyPadillac
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Member since Dec 2010
18905 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
I think both BI and Zion can be good defenders, not great, but good enough.
Both of them seem to care a lot about the game and put in work, so it's odd to see them not care so much on defense.

The fact that they both don't give the effort defensively that you'd expect is one of the first reasons why i questioned how much these players like playing for SVG, which i did well before all this talk about there being issues arose recently.


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nicj4
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Guadeloupe
Member since Jan 2020
382 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
Zion needs to watch videos on Draymond Green's defense...

Green hasn't especially an elite athleticism (compared to many others players) but his IQ and placements are elite on the defensive side.


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jmcwhrter
Member since Nov 2012
3660 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
quote:

AND still lets the guy blow right by him. That was really frustrating all season.


Didn't he do this alot at Duke too, though? I remember watching the tournament and him getting blown by but then he could recover in time to block shots from behind against non-nba level players


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3PieceSpicy
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Metairie
Member since Jan 2021
1210 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
“lack of lateral agility”

The funny thing is, Zion is an upper percentile athlete on offense, including his lateral agility. But on defense, he moves around like 55 year old fry cook at Popeyes.

I think it’s mostly effort, conditioning and technique.

Also, let’s flashback to the preseason of Zion’s rookie year. That Zion actually weighed 285-290 and was 99% Duke Zion from a pure athletic standpoint. And he still looked slow and bad defensively. Note Duke Zion played the college season at 265-270. His listed weight of 285 was when he came in out of shape before they started training for the season. So even 285-290 is not pure Duke Zion.

Z just has to get in the lab defensively and I think he will because the game matters to him. People forget, he played against zero comp in high school and he’s only 2-3 years removed from that. It’s going to take him a minute to become a technically sound defender, especially if he’s going to stay around 300 pounds. It would be infinitely easier for him at the 275 threshold. I think losing 25 pounds might make him 5%-10% worse on offense in terms of finishing through contact (although maybe he’d just finish over them more), but losing the weight would probably make him at least 25% better defensively so it would be a good tradeoff.
This post was edited on 6/7 at 6:24 pm


htran90
New Orleans Saints Fan
BC
Member since Dec 2012
26905 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
quote:

The funny thing is, Zion is an upper percentile athlete on offense, including his lateral agility. But on defense, he moves around like 55 year old fry cook at Popeyes.

I think it’s mostly effort, conditioning and technique.


defense needs to come second nature like offense does. guys who have to 'think' react slow, that's film study and stance like you said.



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touchdownjeebus
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Member since Sep 2010
17394 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
I’m apparently in the minority, but when it’s all said and done, I think he will be borderline elite.


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The Estimator
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
New Orleans
Member since Jul 2012
1492 posts

re: Zion's defense - how good/bad will he ultimately end up?
quote:

3PieceSpicy

quote:

Popeyes.




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